Cynefin as a Means of Understanding

6 Oct

Don’t know how I missed it given the range of influences I have and their seeming respect for the framework but I have just discovered Dave Snowden’s (@snowded) Cynefin framework.  Need to think on it more deeply but it immediately appealed to me and looks like an extremely useful – and rather deep – tool for exploring the world.  Yr enw gymraeg yn helpu wneud e’n berffaith :-)  (and the welsh name just makes it perfect).

I’ve been trying to argue for a long time that not all problems in a business can be solved by one approach and usually used the ‘type’ of business (e.g relationships, infrastructure, innovation or portfolio) as a lens with which to optimise different business capabilities in different ways.  This process of ‘fractal’ and evolutionary EA – where we understand what capabilities we need overall but then allow each capability owner to define their own EA for their particular context based on the business type they run and external selection criteria (and so on) – would seem to be a potential benefactor of the kinds of clarity of thinking the model seems able to bring.  Understand what outcomes we need and then explore the culture and economics required to realise each optimally with a model like cynefin. 

I’ve always believed that the primary purpose of EA should be to create ‘sense making’ models for the enterprise at different levels of abstraction appropriate to the capability we’re trying to realise and so tools like this are invaluable in my view.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future of EA and how to capture in one place all of my thoughts from the last few years; I guess my new challenge is to decide how (and whether) to fit cynefin into that picture as I can rarely pass a good idea by, lol.  In struggling through this process, however, I will now find Dave’s rule of thumb immensely comforting – “I know more than I can say and can say more than I can write down”.  

I just didn’t realise he knew me so well.


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